It seems to me that the Madagascar Penguins were onto something when they said this as the plane disintegrated about them but the bigger question is where is our grit, spit and duct tape in life and why on earth is this relevant to parents enhancing the lives of their children?
It all comes down to hard work and that is something that seems in a lot of cases to have gone out of fashion nowadays. Getting anywhere in life is about determination, focus and stickability. If we can help our children to see past the hand-me down lifestyles that sometimes seem easy now and realise that life is about hard work, then I do believe we are well on our way to helping them to a successful future.
So why the grit? Grit, or determination, as I see it is a primary motivator. It isn’t something that you can give your children but it is something that they can be helped to achieve for themselves. Determination needs to be intrinsic. It needs to be something that, as they get older, isn’t achieved by harping after another carrot, but is something that they alone are resolved about. Whatever “it” is, without that resolve and buy in, no amount of bribery, coercion or threats will make a difference.
But what is the “it”. The “It” I see as a goal or a focus. It possibly should come first. It’s the spit that projects into the future and sticks. Fowl maybe, but true – definitely. Without a goal or focus it is hard to be resolved to have that go get it attitude. With children I don’t believe it matters what that goal/focus is. The fact is, it has to be theirs and they need to own it. If they want to be prime minister or the best goalie ever then let them dream. Logic and rational can come later but use their focus to help them pave a way forward.
Finally, duct tape! That sticky tape that stops stuff shifting is the tape that you want in your children’s lives for a two fold reason. First it stays firm. Children need stability. Even in the most wobbly situation, there needs to be strong threads of stability. When they have an anchor they will not get lost at sea. Stability often partners with consistency. The two kind of go hand in hand but critically a lot of stability and consistency comes out of the values and standards that exist in the home. If they are firm, sure and honoured then children know where they stand, what the expectations are and can branch out from there, knowing what is ok and importantly what isn’t.
The second thing about duct tape is that it is sticky. Aligning with the focus and determination comes the motivation but it is important to stick with it. Encouraging children to be true to themselves, to stick with the paths they have chosen that work and be sure and confident in their good actions encourages self esteem and also enhances all of the above.
So if you’re struggling with your offspring, find it’s always an up-hill battle why not take a leaf out of the Penguins book with some grit, spit and duct tape! I can’t promise you and easy ride or plain sailing but it will help with the momentum to support children from the here and now into the then and next.
Grit, spit and duct tape – go on! Give it a try! Metaphorically, of course!